ERP and Reporting: Prepare for Life After Go Live

If you come from a legacy environment with lots of customized reports and information, then ERP go-live will likely be disappointing to you in terms of immediately available business intelligence. To be sure, there will be significantly more information available real time on ERP screens, but that will likely be met by a couple points of resistance: (1) in general, the ERP data will not look like legacy data, and (2) the higher you go in the organization, the more entitled leadership feels to receive things arranged and formatted the old way. This means you rarely have anyone leading by example.

On the other hand, you know that you have the potential to deliver a staggering amount of insightful data that never existed before, and that can be tremendously profitable to your operation. The goal therefore, becomes to take the steps which will shorten the gap between go-live and realization of potential.

Centralized or Distributed Reports?

The most important strategic decision you need to make is whether you are going to pursue a philosophy of centralized creation of business information within ERP consisting of a relatively few key reports that are consistent and widely distributed, or a philosophy of a strong data warehouse, with user friendly query tools. The first philosophy yields better results over the first six months of the ERP project, the latter philosophy –assuming the query tools truly are user friendly – are better for the life of the project.

If you opt for centralized creation, the greatest benefit relative to effort comes from having a written “ERP information blueprint” that the organization has collectively thought about and supports. This allows the database people to construct the right variables for the future; it allows the report writers and query constructors to know what data will be leveraged the most across the businesses, and it allows the users to participate in prioritizing different parts of the blueprint.

Another area which will accelerate the development and adoption of ERP reports is to make certain that ownership and accountability is established for data which is entered into the system. For instance, if a keystone report is a daily comparison of sales to sales forecast, where did the sales forecast numbers come from, and who entered them? When the first report comes out on day 2 after go-live, and the forecast reads 0, will it be assumed that someone execute their responsibility, or that the ERP system doesn’t work?

Lastly, try to test ERP business intelligence reporting along with everything else during integration testing. It very likely will not be successful, but it will definitely accelerate everyone’s learning.

The unfortunate fact is that it is extremely difficult to make much progress with ERP and business information until a large amount of data is flowing, and a large amount of data is not flowing until go-live. Be patient and persistent in pressing reporting improvements and enhancements every single day after your ERP system go-live.

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Tom Stephenson

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Tom Stephenson

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